GARDINER — Healthy Communities of the Capital Area seeks partners for a summer project to increase summer programs for LGBTQ+ youth in Kennebec County.

The project is funded by a $15,000 United Way of Kennebec Valley Innovation Grant.

“LGBT high school students are more than twice as likely to feel sad or hopeless, and almost four times more likely than their non-LGBT peers to seriously consider suicide,” said Joanne Joy, program manager at HCCA, in a news release from the nonprofit. “Most have more support at school than when out of school, and very few LGBTQ+ specific activities or programs currently happen in the summer when mental health concerns and other risky behaviors are more likely to happen.”

Youth organizations report that they would like to engage more LGBTQ+ youth but don’t know how. Others have lost prior connections with LGBTQ+ youth because of COVID. The project called LGBTQ+ YeSS (LGBTQ+ Youth Experiencing Summer Supports) pulls together interested organizations that already serve youth to find tangible, doable, low-cost/no-cost ways to modify existing opportunities and reach more youth.

Partners so far include libraries, Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs, recreation programs, and others who serve youth. They share their ideas with each other about what works to engage LGBTQ+ youth and brainstorm to collectively creative ideas.

OUT Maine ( will provide expertise on effectively engaging LGBTQ+ youth, and HCCA will do the behind-the-scenes organizing work and provide micro-grants to help get things started.

OUT Maine plans to provide free training via Zoom for all partners of this project at 10 a.m. Feb. 9, 2022. Training will include using supportive language, why pronouns are important, and guidance on developing strategies that work.

For more information, contact Joy at or 207-588-5350. More information can be found at

Healthy Communities of the Capital Area is a public health nonprofit that works to improve the health and quality of life in Kennebec County. Its mission is to convene and support people, organizations and communities to collaborate on quality of life and public health issues.

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